Here’s my brief notes from the Shepherd’s Conference, a big conference for Pastors who are into accurate preaching of God’s Word.
Here are the notes from a session that was more from Church history:
Benjamin Walton. Preaching Old Testament Narratives. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, June 27th 2016. 256 pp.
4 out of 5
Most Christian preachers are probably more comfortable preaching from New Testament epistles than Old Testament narrative. Yet as the book points out forty percent of the Bible is narrative with a large part of that found in the Old Testament. If preachers are to be faithful in preaching all of God’s Word they need to do it well. The author Benjamin Walton has written an excellent resource for expositional preachers who want to preach faithfully the Word of God from Old Testament narratives while at the same time desiring to preach with the intention of impacting contemporary audiences today. Unlike most works on preaching this is a “two-in-one” in that it covers the interpretative skills that a preacher needs as he studies Old Testament narratives and also the practical skills of crafting a sermon. You really get the bang for your buck with this book. One really gets the feeling that the author is writing for the purpose of pastors and teachers able to do all the aspects of expositional preaching well.
Posted in Christianity, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Reformed, sin, Theology, Witty Ditty for Your Memory, tagged Christianity, Gospel, Preaching, Sin, Witty Ditty for Your Memory on January 28, 2017| 6 Comments »
Biblically faithful preaching is harder to find today in more ways than one. Perhaps the most common problem is that some no longer like to preach on sin. If that is true I imagine it is more true that most people do not like Biblical preaching because it talks about sin.
But Why Must Preachers talk about Sin?
The book will be shipped out October 1st, but you can already order it! To order the book, click HERE.
This is a book on whether women can preach and specifically preach in the open air scene. As the author points out, sometimes among some who are theologically conservative, the line is blurred concerning whether women can engage in open air preaching while theologically they won’t allow women to preach at church or be a pastor, etc. This book is calling Complementarians to be consistent. The author, Tony Miano, approaches this topic with great humility and confesses that he use to be among the camp that thought it was appropriate for women to engage in open air evangelism. An open air preacher who has worked with Ray Comfort’s ministry, Tony does not engage in personal attacks of those who disagree but engages the issue with Christian conviction, gentleness and a winsome manner: I was touch to read his apology for misleading people in the past with his former position. I appreciated Miano’s call for the readers not to read with an open mind, but an open Bible; in other words, to be Bereans. The book is divided into two parts, with the first being the presentation of his case for why women should not be engaged in open air preaching. Chapter one takes us back to Adam and Eve with God’s creation and His intended roles for man and woman. He argues that gender roles were existent before the Fall. Chapter five is the meat of the book where Miano does word studies on the Greek word for preaching, woman, etc. Miano also analyzes the counter-arguments. Miano makes it clear that he’s not against women evangelizing and it was helpful that he delineated what women can do for evangelism in chapter eight He also has a moving story of what a man cannot do in evangelism that a woman can (you will have to read it yourself). Part two features various interviews of pastors and preachers on their view of women and whether they can preach. While I don’t want to take away from the main focus of the book, I also wanted to note other things I like about Miano’s work apart from the women preaching issue: I appreciated how the preface was evangelistic which reveal how Tony Miano is a true evangelist, since you can never know if a nonbeliever is reading this book. Miano has a very nuance definition of evangelism as well. As a former Marine radio operator, I also appreciated his analogy of the prayer warrior’s role in evangelism: “The praying saint is the radio operator of a platoon pinned down by enemy fire, calling in air strikes to protect and maybe even save his comrades in arms.” One gets to see what makes Tony tick: He desires to be biblical and raises the par of open air preaching above the stereotype that sadly can be far too typical: He stresses the importance of local church and the par for open air preachers to be raised! This will be the topic for his next book, “Should He preach?” Seeing how helpful this book is, I am already anticipating the next one.
NOTE: This book is provided to me free by Tony Miano without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
What can I say about this book? Well, its not just any book. It’s one of a kind. And a kind that happens to deal with one of the most important elements in the life of the church. It’s a book on preaching and preachers. I could see why Dr. Jones would want to write a book on preaching and preachers. For example, in this clear definition concerning the work of the church and the pastor, he states, “The primary task of the Church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God.” In other words it is the business of the church to make sure that the preaching of God’s Word is not subordinate to other areas in the life of the church. Preaching is essential, because the preacher stands between God and souls that are on the verge of entering Hell and life of voidness that is separated from the love of God. For Dr. Jones, “The preacher alone is the one who can do this. He is the only one who is in a position to deal with the greatest need of the world.” There is no substitute for it because preaching is the means that has been ordained by God to convert dead souls; and to edify living souls.
There are so many things that can be addressed concerning this book. Once you read this book you probably will scratch your head at some of the doctor’s comments and may not agree with every single jot and tittle of what the man says. You will see some of his strong opinions, but they are worth your attention, nonetheless. It will cause you to think. Some of the foundational points that Dr. Jones mentions can be listed under these headings that is somewhat similar to what Mark Dever said in his essay contribution concerning his reading of Dr. Jones’ book: preaching should normally be expository, evangelistic, clear about God, serious, clear about sin, confrontational, not deceptive/manipulative; should proclaim the Gospel; and preaching should proclaim the Gospel because the Gospel is for everyone.
Expository preaching is fundamental to the church. We need to hear what the verse or passage means because getting the meaning down brings one closer to God. We should not concoct our own meanings or imaginations into the message. Preaching should also be evangelistic. Although edifying the saints is critical the growth of believers, evangelistic messages are also important because the preacher needs to come to grips with the reality that perhaps not everyone in the pew is a believer. Preaching should also be clear about God. Why should we be clear about God? We want to be clear about God because we want people to have a sense of God and His holy presence. Dr. Jones once said in his lectures concerning the topic of being clear about God, “I am never tired of saying that the real difficulty of evangelism today is that we do not spend sufficient time with the doctrine of God.” Even though he is referring to evangelism, the principle still applies to the pulpit. Clarity about God is vital because he is the heartbeat of the message. In terms of being serious when it comes to preaching, Dr. Jones responded to an interview done by Carl Henry. Carl Henry said, “You have a great sense of humor, your friends say, but seldom use it in the pulpit.” Dr. Jones replied by saying, “I find it very difficult to be humorous in the pulpit. I always feel in the pulpit that I am in the terrible position of standing between God and souls that may go to hell. That position is too appalling for humour.” That is a heart-check moment for me. Whenever I get the opportunity to preach, may God instill a sense of continual seriousness upon my mind. As for preaching being clear about sin and being confrontational about sin, the doctor says that we are to be respectful towards the person, but we also must be merciless on the sinner because of their rebellion against God. The sinner that has not placed his full trust in Christ is an abomination to God. And just to give an anecdotal evidence of this, the doctor did back up his statements when he was in the heat of the moment. For example, in one of his sermons, he said, “The church of Christ is a church of believers, an association of people banded together by a common belief and a common love. You don’t believe? Well, above all, do not pretend that you do, go to the country and the seaside. All I ask of you is, be consistent. When someone dies in your family, do not come to bury him. Go to the sea-side for consolotion.” That may seem harsh, but is true love. He cares for them that much, that he is willing to tell them their reality of their condition so that they may come to Christ. Another area that must be covered is the manipulation in preaching. Dr. Jones adds a crucial statement that is fundamental to our awareness concerning manipulation, “The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then the affections.” That is a great quote. In the days we are living in, many churches manipulate people by making people think they are saved if they just sign a card, say a sinners’ prayer, walk a aisle, or make a decision for Christ – all without their mind being washed by the Gospel. But what’s the use when the mind has not been affected by the Gospel? The mind is critical. If the mind is not washed by the Word and affected by the the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), then one does not truly understand and accept the Gospel. It is the mind that substantiates the human will and emotion. The last fundamental point I would like to point out is this: “evangelistic preaching is for all.” In other words, believers and unbelievers need to hear the Gospel. For the Christian, the Gospel is the source that sanctifies them in this life and the life to come. For the unbeliever, the Gospel is the only hope concerning one’s freedom from sin and is the only hope concerning one’s escape from hell in the afterlife.
I highly recommend this book. I would say that besides the preaching books that focuses on the mechanics of preaching, this is the best book on the treatment of preaching and preachers. It will electrify your soul if you have a heart to preach God’s Word.
1) Abuses of Exposition
a) Non-expostion: Preaching the same content over and over again, regardless of the text.
b) Preaching the same point week after week.
c) The preacher who implements non-exposition does not attempt to convey that passage’s true meaning.
a) Non-contexted sermon—This is when Scripture is wrenched from its surrounding context and mistakenly applied.
i) (Preacher used Revelation 11:10 as a Christmas text). Revelation does not sound like merry Christmas.
b) Lensed sermon—The preacher sees every text through the lens of a favorite theme. This lens could be therapeutic, political, chauvinistic, social, domestic, etc.
c) Moralized sermon—This is when the preacher makes the sermon a personal and professional goal as the center of the sermon. The sermon should not be about professional goals, but should be about imitating Christ.
d) Doctrinalized sermon—This is when the Scriptures are used as proof-texts for the doctrinal preferences of the preacher. We should not have a particular leaning outside of Scripture.
e) Silenced sermon—Preaching on details that Scripture does not teach.
f) We need to be careful with a psychologized gospel. The gospel must not be reduced to a salvific message of self-esteem, sin to maladjustment, church to group therapy.
3) Logos (Preacher’s Convictions about Scripture)
a) The preacher must believe in the authority of Scripture, inerrancy of Scripture, sufficiency of Scripture, infallibility of Scripture, and recognize the inseparability of the Word and the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16).
i) Authority of Scripture
(1) There is no exposition apart from an exalted view of the Scripture.
(2) Some neglect Biblical authority because they are slothful.
(3) Some do not believe in the potency of the Word. This causes one to neglect biblical authority.
ii) Believe in its Inerrancy
iv) Believe in its Sufficiency
(1) Sufficiency is not enough by itself. He must whole-heartedly believe in it. He needs to embrace its claim.
(2)He must exemplify Jesus’ meditation on the Word. Jesus meditated on the words when He was tempted.
(3)Potency—Must believe in the power of God. God’s word is like a knife that cuts through butter.
4) Inseparability of the Word and the Holy Spirit.
a) God’s word and Spirit go together (see Genesis1-3; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; John 3:34; John 6:63; 1 Timothy 3:16)
5) Historical Value of Exposition.
a) Apostle’s valued exposition.
b) Calvin and other men of the faith in history valued exposition.
6) The Advantages of Exposition
a) You preach a text that you would not volunteer to preach.
b) You do not have to wonder around on Saturday night trying to figure out what to preach because the text is before you.
c) You grow as a theologian because of systematic biblical exposition.
d) Expository preaching keeps you subject to the text. This forces you to look to Scripture.
e) Expository preaching gives you confidence to preach with a “Thus saith the Lord.”
f) You will have confidence that when the Word is opened the Spirit speaks.
7) Ethos: An Expositor’s Integrity
a) You are what you are. Your biblical character flows out when preaching with truth.
b) Preacher’s character is fundamental.
c) Truth will not come merely from the lips, but the person.
d) “What a man is in secret, in these private duties, that he is in the eyes of God, and no more” (John Owen).
8) Preacher’s peril
a) Have you eaten the Bread of Life before offering it to others?
b) There is a danger when the preacher preaching is not experiencing the power of truth in his heart.
c) Our hearts need to be sanctified.
d) Christianity should impact our affections that shape our fears, hopes, love, hatreds, desires, joys, sorrows, gratitude’s, compassions, zeal, etc. If this does not take place, then this becomes a peril for a preacher.
9) Pathos: A Pastor’s Passion
a) Godly passion is necessary.
b) Our passion should not be in word only, but we also need to have conviction towards the Scriptures.
c) For Paul, his passion was seen through preaching and weeping.
10) Passion and Personality
a) Thomas Chalmers, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn-Lloyd Jones; to name but a few, had a blood earnestness mentality when preaching. They understood people’s souls were on the balance.
b) Preacher’s heart must be alive .
11) Goal of Preaching
a) Glorify God.
b) To be complete in Christ.
i) Colossians 1:28, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (NASB).